SEATTLE (AP) — Usually the suit jacket Washington coach Mike Hopkins wears to start each game is gone long before the end of the first half.
On Sunday night the jacket lasted about 33 minutes before Washington’s coach ditched it and rolled up his sleeves, just as the Huskies were doing their part to give away most of a 20-point lead.
“We just got sloppy. That’s just the bottom line. We have to do a lot better job,” Hopkins said. “We have to have more respect for that in terms of the game, making extra passes and not just throwing the ball all over the gym.”
Jaylen Nowell scored 12 of his 18 points in the first half, Noah Dickerson added 13 and Washington nearly blew all of that 20-point advantage before holding off crosstown rival Seattle 70-62.
Washington (7-3) was back on the court for the first time since its near-upset of No. 1 Gonzaga earlier in the week, losing 81-79 on Rui Hachimura’s free-throw line jumper with less than a second remaining. The loss showed Washington is capable of playing with anyone in the country, but the matchup against the Redhawks was a test of whether the Huskies could avoid a trend of playing to the level of their competition.
For the first 30 minutes, Washington passed its test. For the final 10 minutes the Huskies failed and it nearly cost them. What appeared to be a blowout became a one-possession game into the final minute. Washington led 58-38 with 13:21 left only to watch Seattle score 24 of the next 28 points to pull within two points twice in the final two minutes.
That would be as close as the Redhawks would get.
“We thought the game was over. We kind of mailed it in,” Washington’s Matisse Thybulle said.
Morgan Means led Seattle (9-3) with 21 points and Myles Carter added 15 despite playing with foul trouble most of the night. Means was the catalyst for Seattle’s rally, but the Redhawks had dug too deep a deficit to overcome.
“We just haven’t been through that much adversity as a group yet and obviously we were on the ropes. We regrouped and focused, and I thought our guys showed great pride and kept fighting,” Seattle coach Jim Hayford said. “We played a really good, smart first 10 minutes, a really impassioned last 10 minutes but if you’re going to beat a team that just took the No. 1 team in the nation on the road all 40 minutes you’ve got to play all 40 minutes.”
Leading 41-34 at halftime, Washington started the second half on a 13-2 run to seemingly take control. Carter scored the opening basket of the second half for Seattle before the Redhawks went silent for the next five minutes. Carter picked up his fourth foul with 18:14 left and Washington’s nine-point lead quickly ballooned to 20, including dunks by Dickerson and Thybulle. Seattle started the second half 2-of-17 shooting and had a pair of five-minute scoring droughts.
But Washington got complacent and its lead was trimmed to 62-60 with two minutes left after Carter scored in the lane to cap a 24-4 run by Seattle that included 14 points from Means. Washington committed eight turnovers and was 2-of-16 shooting during Seattle’s run.
“We started getting like the game is over and you can’t have that,” Hopkins said. “I’ve got to coach better, they’ve got to play better and you can’t let missed shots and those things affect your defense.”
Dickerson and Dominic Green sandwiched baskets around Carter scoring for a 66-62 Washington lead with a minute left. Carter again got the ball underneath but couldn’t convert while being challenged by Hameir Wright and Washington made four free throws in the final seconds.
Seattle: The Redhawks already took down Washington State and were seeking a sweep of the state’s Pac-12 schools. They’ll have one more chance at picking up a second Pac-12 win this season playing at California on Dec. 29. … The Redhawks have dropped 14 straight in the series dating back to 1978.
Washington: The Huskies dominated statistically in two key areas: bench points and second-chance points. Washington held a 13-1 advantage in second-chance points and 22-2 in bench points.
Washington will be without freshman center Bryan Penn-Johnson for at least six weeks after suffering a stress fracture in his lower right leg. Penn-Johnson has played only sparingly so far, but won’t be back until well into the Pac-12 schedule.
Seattle: The Redhawks are at Portland on Dec. 17.
Washington: The Huskies travel cross country to face No. 15 Virginia Tech in Atlantic City, New Jersey, next Saturday.